Learn about the different TV display formats. HDTVs are wider than standard-definition TVs (SDTV). HDTV screens are 78 percent wider than they are tall. As a result, if your television is an HD TV, standard definition content will not properly fit your entire television screen, and will instead be stretched or alternatively display black bars on either side of the image to compensate. Below you will find a list of the different formats that your Digital Box can be set to display. The availability of these formats is dependent on what equipment you are currently using (Digital Box, Television).

This article will provide insight into:


4:3 Aspect Ratio

SDTVs have an aspect ratio of 4:3 (also known as 4x3, 1.33:1, or standard). They are 33 percent wider than they are tall.

4:3 Aspect RatioExample of 4:3 Aspect Ratio

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16:9 Aspect Ratio

HDTVs have an aspect ratio of 16:9 (16x9, 1.78:1, or widescreen), They are 78 percent wider than tall. This allows a much wider viewing area to be displayed on the screen and more closely mimics how your eyes actually see the world.

16:9 Aspect RatioExample of 16:9 Aspect Ratio

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Letterbox is where film is displayed at its full width (even on a 16:9 HDTV or a 4:3 SDTV) and has black horizontal bars at the top and bottom of the screen. This process ensures no part of the film’s image is lost when viewed on any type of television.

Letterbox Aspect RatioExample of Letterbox Aspect Ratio

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Pan and Scan

Sides of the original widescreen image are often cropped off and the focus rests on the centre portion of the frame of the scene. Important visual information towards the sides of the picture can be lost.

Pan and Scan Aspect Ratio

Example of Pan and Scan

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Anamorphic Widescreen is where a widescreen (16:9) TV can proportionately display a widescreen program. The original film format is squeezed horizontally to fit inside the almost-square screen space.

Anamorphic Widescreen Aspect Ratio

Example of Anamorphic Widescreen

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